As a senior citizen, driving is a great way for you to stay independent and mobile. Since 1999, the number of licensed older drivers has increased by about 50 percent, possibly due to the high number of Baby Boomers on the road. Regrettably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 16 seniors are killed and 648 are injured every day on average. The CDC reports that the higher rate is not due to the number of crashes, but due to an increased risk of medical complications because an older driver has health problems which exacerbate injuries in an accident.
Older drivers do tend to be safer on the road. One reason for this is because drivers older than 65 have a high incidence of seat belt use. You may also tend to drive when conditions are the safest, for example, limiting your driving during bad weather or at night. In addition, older drivers are less likely to drink and drive than other adult drivers.
Staying safe on the road
If you are an older driver, you can take steps to keep yourself safer on the road:
- Talk to your doctor about medication interactions and side effects to know it is safe to drive.
- Have your eyes checked annually.
- Plan your route before you leave. Find a safe route with well-lit streets and easy parking.
- Avoid distractions while driving, especially texting or talking on your cellphone.
- Exercise regularly to improve your flexibility and strength.
- Update your car to a safer model.
You may need to sharpen your driving skills as you age to adapt to your changing abilities. AARP offers driver safety classes, which you could consider taking although it is not required to renew a driver's license. In Oklahoma, drivers over the age of 70 have to renew their license in person, take the vision test and possibly retake the written test.
Take care of yourself if you are in an accident
Unfortunately, you cannot control other drivers on the road. When another driver is negligent and causes a crash , make sure to seek medical treatment. The most important thing is your health and well-being. You might want to consider seeking the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney to help you follow up with the other driver's insurance company. Dealing with the insurance company after an accident can be stressful, and you may be pressed to accept a settlement that does not consider your long-term needs. However, it is essential for you to hold the other driver accountable for all your injuries.